The University of South Carolina is developing embedded system design course materials based on the Xilinx University Program (XUP) Professor Workshops on embedded system design. In their current form, XUP materials are delivered through 2-day workshops to working professionals who already understand embedded system concepts. This project is expanding the scope of the XUP content in order to deliver the course to undergraduate students.
The undergraduate laboratory materials in embedded system design are providing students with extensive hands-on opportunities to enhance their knowledge and understanding of advanced concepts and principles in designing current and next-generation embedded systems using Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) technology. Compared to System-On-a-Chip (SOC) technologies, FPGA design has a much short design cycle, lower cost, and a smoother learning curve. In addition, FPGA devices are programmable and reprogrammable, which makes them reusable throughout the lab practices and excellent devices to test and investigate different design alternatives. As a result, FPGA devices are more suitable than SOC methodologies to build Intellectual Property (IP) based application-specific systems in an undergraduate embedded system design course. FPGA devices are also becoming increasingly popular in industrial embedded system designs where they are often used to develop a piece of "core" functionality, which can then be sold as an IP component. Therefore, learning to use the tools and design processes for FPGA based embedded systems is providing students with skills and experiences that can be readily applied when they begin to compete in the global labor force.